Saturday, April 25, 2015

EASTER IV SUNDAY: ACTS 4: 8-12; I JN 3: 1-2; JOHN 10:11-18

There is the story of a particular census taker who went to a poor home in the mountains of West Virginia to gather information. He asked the mother how many children she had. The woman began, "Well, there is Rosie, and Billy, and  Susie, Harry, and Jeffrey. There's Johnny, and Harvey, and our dog, Willie. The census taker interrupted her and said: "No, ma'am, that's not necessary. I only need the humans. "Ah," she said. And began to pronounce the names of the children. Once again, the census taker interrupted her and said, "No, ma'am, I just need the numbers." The old woman replied, "But I don't know them by numbers. I only know them by name." In today's gospel Jesus the good shepherd says that he knows his sheep by name.

The fourth Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. It is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The scripture lessons are about shepherds. Each year on this Sunday we reflect on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, devotedly taking care of his flock.
The picture of a shepherd can suggest many new ways of thinking about God. A shepherd would die, to protect his sheep. A shepherd would know his sheep, and his sheep, know him. A good shepherd could tend a great many sheep. He would be loved, by the owner of the sheep, for caring so much for them. With all this image of a shepherd, Jesus shows us what God is here to do for us.

Many years ago a woman carrying a baby through the hills of South Wales, England, was overtaken by a blizzard. Searchers found her later frozen to death in the snow. Amazed that she had  no outer garments on, they searched further and found her baby. She had wrapped them around the child, who was still alive and well. He grew up to be David Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Like this woman Jesus the good shepherd laid down his life for his sheep.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, "When a chap is in love, he will go out in all kinds of weather to keep an appointment with his beloved. Love can be demanding; in fact, more demanding than law. It has its own imperatives. Think of a mother sitting by the bedside of a sick child through the night, impelled only by love. Nothing is too much trouble for love." Jesus makes it clear as he draws near the cross that his motivation is love. He is choosing to make this sacrifice. He is choosing to be faithful to what God has put before him.

There is a tale that in the first century a man came to Tertullian, a father in the early church. And in trying to justify some compromises the man had felt he had to make, commented, "I have to live, don't I?" to which Tertullian is reported to have said, "Do you?" The challenge is to focus away from self and to others, to ask where our real values are- survival only, or living as to make a difference. A good shepherd makes a difference with his life.
Jesus the Good Shepherd knows us, provides for us and loves us. Except Jesus who is the Shepherd, we all play the roles of shepherds and sheep at the same time. The challenge is that we should be good shepherds to those entrusted to our care. We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time and talents for their welfare, and guarding them from physical and spiritual dangers. 

He leads us to the cool waters of Church teaching, a clear, refreshing stream that never stops flowing and is never polluted. He leads us to the rich, grassy meadows of the sacraments, where we can feed on his grace for free, without ever having to worry about famines or droughts. He truly is our good shepherd.

But are we good sheep? Most of us want to be; that's why we are here today. But even if we already are good sheep, without a doubt we can become better sheep, if we make a more responsible and active use of the supernatural resources that Christ came all the way down from heaven to give us.

Today, as he renews his commitment to us, let's renew our commitment to him, and promise him that this week, we will be better sheep than ever.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

EASTER III SUNDAY: ACTS. 3: 13-15, 17-19; I JN 2:1-5; LUKE 24: 35-48  

The priest of a small Hindu congregation in a tribal area in India was being proselytized by some energetic Christian missionaries. He listened for a while and then said to them: "Gentlemen, look. I have a proposal that will settle this. I have here a glass of nux vomica, a poison which I use to kill rats. If you drink this poison and remain alive as your God Jesus Christ promised, I will join your religion – and not only myself, but my entire Hindu congregation. But if you won't drink the poison, well, then, I can only conclude that you are false ministers of the gospel you preach because you do not trust that your Lord would not let you perish." This created a problem for the missionaries. They conferred with each other and said, "What on earth are we going to do?" Finally, they arrived at a plan of action. They came back, approached the Hindu priest and said, "Here is our plan. You drink the poison, and we'll raise you from the dead by the power of Jesus!"
The theme of today’s Gospel reading is a challenge from Jesus to believe in his promise of resurrection. “He stood among the huddled up together Disciples and greets them peace.   He did not have to fumble with a key, or knock loudly  or call out to enter in the room. He stood among them to address their fear. 

The resurrected Jesus invites his disciples to touch his wounds and see. His wounds proclaim the extent of his love for them and the world. For many people, it is difficult to believe that God really cares about us that much.  Some of us are more comfortable with an impersonal God who is the First Cause, the Ground of Being, a Source of life and power but not of personality. We like God, but don’t want him to be too personal. The idea of God with nail prints in his hands and feet because of his great love for us is a concept we are not ready for.

Despite all their physical examinations and assurances, the disciples are still confused. Luke’s text describes them as “joyful” yet “disbelieving”, and yet “marveling” all at the same time. As a final demonstration of his genuine physical presence, Jesus asks for something to eat. He calmly munches down a bit of fish “in their presence.” With that act the disciples are now equipped for full witness to the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  

With this first hand faith, their witness is highly reliable. And so they are called to witness to Jesus and the love and forgiveness of God. People with a second-hand faith might be reluctant to give their lives. After all, they might have a degree of uncertainty. They weren’t there. They simply heard a report from people they trusted. But for the disciples they were first hand witnesses. They spoke with absolute certainty as we heard in the first reading. They saw nail scarred hands of Jesus. They spoke with him and ate with him. And, there can be no doubt of their reliability. Therefore they are called to be witnesses of the resurrection.
St Peter shows amazing courage in today's First Reading. In his post Pentecost sermon, he preached the gospel to the Jewish leaders and residents of Jerusalem - the very same group of people who had conspired to condemn Jesus to death by crucifixion.

And Peter doesn't sugar-coat his message; he reminds of that: "The author of life you put to death." But then he moves on from their sin, weakness, and ignorance. He lifts their gaze to something much more important. He tells them that God can handle it, that God took the evil of Christ's suffering and death and turned it into the definitive victory over evil, suffering and death: "God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses."
And as he said, "we are witnesses," certainly he was thinking of those times, when Jesus appeared to them, letting them see and touch his wounds, proving that he was no ghost or illusion stemming from wishful thinking.
It is Christ's resurrection that has made all the difference. It has dissolved the bonds of original sin and opened the door to a new life, a life in which each of us can truly leave behind the chains of sin and selfishness in all their forms. The Resurrection is the key that opens the treasure of hope for each of us, no matter how mediocre, hypocritical, or self-absorbed we have been and tend to be.
The Resurrection puts all good things within reach: wisdom, patience, joy, fortitude, self-control - in short, it makes holiness and lasting happiness possible for us.
That is what Peter is telling the crowds, and that is what the Church is telling us: hope in Christ, leave everything aside to follow him, and he will work wonders in our lives. Are we open to listen to him and the Church so that Christ may open the Scriptures to us?

Friday, April 10, 2015

EASTER II [B)(Acts 4: 32- 35, I John 5: 1-6, John 20: 19-31)

Perhaps you've heard the story of the Yugoslavian judge who was electrocuted when he reached up to turn on the light while standing in the bathtub. This guy’s poor wife found his body sprawled on the bathroom floor. He was pronounced dead and was placed in a preparation room under a crypt in the town cemetery for twenty-four hours before burial.
Well, in the middle of the night, the judge woke up and looked around at his surroundings and suddenly realized where he was. He got pretty excited and rushed over to alert the guard. But instead of being any help, the guard was terrified and promptly ran off. Fortunately, though, the guard returned with a friend, and they released the newly-revived judge. The judge's first thought was to phone his wife and reassure her that he really wasn't dead. Unfortunately, he got no farther than, "Honey... it's me," when his wife screamed and fainted.
So, he decided that the best course of action was to enlist some friends. He went to the houses of several friends; but because they all had heard the news from his distraught wife, they all doubted that he was really alive. They were all convinced he was a ghost.
Finally, in a last desperate effort, he contacted a friend in another city who hadn't heard about his death. And that person was able to convince his family and friends that the judge really was alive.
That story almost sounds like the passage from John this morning. Jesus goes to great lengths to assure his disciples that he is no mere ghost or illusion. He shows them the marks of his crucifixion and he explains how the scriptures foretold his death and rising, he even eats a piece of fish to show them that he is not a ghost. In spite of all these, they had doubts and questioned in their minds about his identity, until the Pentecost.
Having doubts is not anything bad. Doubt is not the opposite of Faith, but a part of it. As the poet Tennyson put it: “There lives more faith in honest doubt.” Thomas’ doubt is not non-belief in some credal statement or other, but a lack of confidence to trust in the present reality of the Love of God. We are not saved by our beliefs but by our faith; by our reliance on Jesus Christ.

Thomas’ statement “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” is soon followed by the greatest profession of faith in all the Bible: My Lord and MY God. Nobody called Jesus God before Thomas did. His sincere doubt led him to strong faith leading him to go to India and preach the Gospel there for about 20 years and be martyred there. His doubts led to strengthening his faith. If a man will begin in certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.

Many young people confess that they have doubts about their faith. Having doubt is the sign that they are serious about their faith. But having doubt and not searching to know more about is a sign of lack of interest in faith. They will soon lose even what faith they have. Jesus said seek, and you will find. When we search to know about our faith we will find answers. If we never had doubt about our faith I would say we are very careless about the faith.
Our most important question concerning Jesus, is simply this: Do we think he is dead or alive?
If Jesus is simply dead, there are any number of ways we can relate ourselves to his life and his accomplishments and learn more ­ABOUT him. But we cannot reasonably expect to learn more FROM him.
If he is alive, however, everything changes. It is no longer a matter of our questioning an historical record, but a matter of our being put in question by one who has broken every rule of ordinary human existence. If Jesus lives, then it must be as life-giver. Jesus is not simply a figure of the past in that case, but a person in the present; not merely a memory we can analyze and manipulate, but an agent who can confront and instruct us. What we can learn about him must therefore include what we continue to learn from him.
Thomas Jefferson ranks as one of our nation’s greatest intellects but not many people know that he rejected the notion of miracles. When he approached the scriptures he could not tolerate those passages, which dealt with the supernatural. So what did he do? He wrote his own bible. In the Thomas Jefferson Bible you will find only the moral teachings and historical events of Jesus' life. No virgin birth. No healing of Jairus' daughter. No walking on water. And, no resurrection. Here is how his bible ends: "There laid they Jesus and rolled a great stone at the mouth of the sepulcher and departed."

It is very easy to rewrite history. To say, "that did not happen." But the story remains that the disciples were witnesses to these events. Thomas Jefferson is in essence calling the disciples liars and that they continued throughout the first century, for 70 years, to propagate those lies. Furthermore, Jefferson's Bible has been robbed of its power. The Church is alive because of Jesus’ resurrection.
It is difficult for us to believe when we do not strengthen ourselves with the fellowship of other believers. When the Lord appeared to Thomas later, He said: “Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.”  Paul reminds us that "Faith comes from hearing" (Rom 10:17). Hearing comes from attending the service on Sundays as a community. A single straw burned gives only a little bit of heat. But a bunch of hay burned together can heat up a cup of water. When Thomas stayed away from the community he missed seeing the risen Jesus. But when he came back to the community he could strengthen his faith.

Like St. Thomas, let us use our skepticism to help us grow in Faith. It is our genuine doubts about the doctrines of our religion that encourage us to study these doctrines more closely and thus to grow in our Faith. This will naturally lead us to a personal encounter with Jesus through our prayer, study of the Word of God, and frequenting of the Sacraments. However, we must never forget the fact that our Faith is not our own doing, but is a gift from God. Hence, we need to augment our Faith every day by prayer so that we may join St. Thomas in his proclamation: “My Lord and my God." 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Sunday. Acts 10:34-43; Col 3:1-4; Jn 20: 1-9

The late Catholic Archbishop of Hartford, John Whealon, had undergone cancer surgery resulting in a permanent colostomy when he wrote these very personal words in one of his last Easter messages: "I am now a member of an association of people who have been wounded by cancer.  That association has as its symbol the phoenix, a bird of Egyptian mythology. The Greek poet Hesiod, who lived eight centuries before Jesus was born, wrote about this legendary bird in his poetry.  When the bird felt its death was near (every 500 to 1500 years), it would fly off to Phoenicia, build a nest of aromatic wood and set itself on fire.  When the bird was consumed by the flames, a new phoenix sprang forth from the ashes. Thus, the phoenix symbolizes immortality, resurrection, and life after death.  It sums up the Easter message perfectly.  Jesus gave up His life, and from the grave He was raised to life again on the third day. New life rises from the ashes of death.
Easter is the greatest and the most important feast in the Church. It marks the birthday of our eternal hope.  "Easter" literally means "the feast of fresh flowers." We celebrate it with pride and jubilation for three reasons:
1) The resurrection of Christ is the basis of our Christian Faith. The Resurrection is the greatest of the miracles -- it proves that Jesus is God. That is why St. Paul writes:  “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain; and your Faith is in vain… And if Christ has not been raised, then your Faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins…  But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep”  (I Cor 15: 14, 17, 20). 
2) Easter is the guarantee of our own resurrection. Jesus assured Martha at the tomb of Lazarus: “I am the Resurrection and the life; whoever believes in Me will live even though he dies” (Jn 11: 25-26).  Christ will raise us up on the last day, but it is also true, in a sense, that we have already risen with Christ.  By virtue of the Holy Spirit, our Christian life is already a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ. We died with Christ in our baptism and we will die no more. Corrie Ten Boom put it like this: "In the forest fire, there is always one place where the fire cannot reach. It is the place where the fire has already burned itself out. Calvary is the place where the fire of God's judgment against sin burned itself out completely. It is there that we are safe." So, a Christian dies with Christ at baptism and he can die no more. And since Christ rose from the dead a Christian rises with him.
3) Easter is a feast which gives us hope and encouragement. In this world of pain, sorrows and tears, Easter reminds us that life is worth living.  It is our belief in the Real Presence of the Risen Jesus in our souls, in His Church, in the Blessed Sacrament and in Heaven that gives meaning to our personal, as well as to our common, prayers. Our trust in the all-pervading presence of the Risen Lord gives us strength to fight against temptations and freedom from unnecessary worries and fears.  
 Reasons why we believe in the Resurrection of Jesus are:
(1) Jesus himself testified to his Resurrection from the dead. Three times he predicted about his forthcoming suffering and death, and all the three times he also mentioned his resurrection.
(2) The tomb was empty on Easter Sunday. The stone could not have held him prisoner in the tomb.  Its removal was a sign of the resurrection, not a condition for it.  The angel rolled back the stone not to throw open a way for our Lord to come forth, but to provide evidence to people that he had already come forth.”  Jesus could come and stand before disciples who were behind locked doors. So the stone was not a block for him coming out from there.
(3) The initial disbelief of Jesus’ own disciples in His Resurrection, in spite of His repeated apparitions, serves as a strong proof of His Resurrection. Their initial disbelief explains why the Apostles started preaching the Risen Christ only after receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
(4) The transformation of Jesus’ disciples from hopeless and fearful men after the crucifixion into men who now were confident and bold witnesses to the Resurrection.
5.The Apostles and early Christians would not have faced martyrdom if they were not absolutely sure of Jesus’ Resurrection. 
6.The Apostle Paul’s conversion from a persecutor of Christians to a zealous preacher of of Jesus supports the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection . 
The resurrection tells that the tomb is not a blind alley; it is a thoroughfare. It closes on the twilight; it opens on the dawn." Mary Magdalene came to the tomb while it was still dark "but the darkness did not remain. The dawn broke. God's Son had risen
Perhaps for whatever reason you are in darkness right now. Family concerns. Problems at work. Anxiety about your health and your future. The loss of someone you love. Easter promises us more than the stars in our darkness. Easter promises us that in the midst of our deepest darkness the Son rises to overwhelm the darkness forever.

 Martin Luther once spent three days in a black depression over something that had gone wrong. On the third day his wife came downstairs dressed in mourning clothes. "Who's dead?" he asked her. "God," she replied. Luther rebuked her, saying, "What do you mean, God is dead? God cannot die." "Well," she replied, "the way you've been acting I was sure He had!"
 Easter reminds us that every Good Friday in our lives will have an Easter Sunday and that Jesus will let us share the power of His Resurrection. To behold the resurrection, the stone must first be rolled away from our hearts. Let’s roll away the stones of Anxiety, worries, disbelief from our hearts so that we can see the risen Christ living in our lives.

Easter Vigil: Mark:16:1-7
Go and tell his disciples and Peter…
A first year student in a Catholic seminary was told by the dean that he should plan to preach the sermon in chapel the following day. He had never preached a sermon before, he was nervous and afraid, and he stayed up all night, but in the morning, he didn’t have a sermon. He stood in the pulpit, looked out at his classmates and said “Do you know what I am going to say?” All of them shook their heads “no” and he said “Neither do I. The service has ended. Go in peace.”

The dean was not happy. “I’ll give you another chance tomorrow, and you had better have a sermon.” Again he stayed up all night; and again he couldn’t come up with a sermon. Next morning, he stood in the pulpit and asked “Do you know what I am going to say?” The students all nodded their heads “yes.” “Then there is no reason to tell you” he said. “The service has ended. Go in peace.”

Now the dean was angry. “I’ll give you one more chance; if you don’t have a sermon tomorrow, you will be asked to leave the seminary.” Again, no sermon came. He stood in the pulpit the next day and asked “Do you know what I am going to say?” Half of the students nodded “yes” and the other half shook their heads “no.” The student preacher then announced “Those who know, tell those who don’t know. The service has ended. Go in peace.”

The seminary dean walked over to the student, put his arm over the student’s shoulders, and said “Those who know, tell those who don’t know. Today, the gospel has been proclaimed.”

The Angel told Mary Magdelene to go and tell his disciples and Peter…
Now that you know he has been raised, your job is to go and tell others. Today we have 7 people joining the Church. Like Mary Magdalene told others, there were some who told them about Jesus and finally they came to Sr.Lynn to hear more about the Risen Christ. And finally they were convinced that Jesus is really risen Indeed. The greatest proof of the resurrection of Jesus is not the empty tomb. Empty tomb is only a sign. Jesus didn’t need to roll the stone away to come out of the tomb, if he could appear before the disciples sitting in locked rooms.
Conversion of Saul, an enemy of Jesus into the most zealous Apostle Paul, is also a proof that Jesus rose from the dead.
Pastor Rick Calhoun writes, “The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was never meant to be proved but experienced. From time to time people ask if the resurrection of Jesus can be proved. It can't. What's more, Jesus himself has never wanted it proved. He has always wanted followers, not detectives. No one can really wrap one’s head around the fact of resurrection. We can never fully understand it. We have to take the word of others who were witnesses. Those early witnesses were very passionate about their testimonies. Many were to be martyred in defense of their convictions. But ultimately the resurrection is to be experienced, not proved. The most convincing evidence of the Resurrection of Christ is the transformation of the people who know Jesus and believe in Him. Twelve men were not going to give up their lives to simply perpetuate that which they know to be a hoax. The resurrection is not proven by science or knowledge, but by faith. You do not say: resurrected Christ, appear to me and then I will believe. It is just the opposite. The resurrected Christ appeared only to those who did believe. The angel told Mary: Go to Galilee and there you will find him. I would think that Galilee represents the community of believers. Galilee was to be the place where Jesus would plainly reveal to his followers that he was indeed alive. He did not reveal himself to the Caiaphas and Pilates and Herods of the world. Only those who believed him saw him. Jesus did not go around waxing fingers to the Chief priests telling: hay guys, you challenged me to come down from the cross and you would believe…see now I am here..No, he did not say that. He showed himself to the believers only to strengthen their belief. And afterwards he ascended to the Father.
The risen Jesus chose to show himself to the Community of believers. When Thomas doubted Jesus did not go find Thomas alone. Only when he came back to the Community that Thomas found the risen Jesus. We make the mistake of trying to find Jesus alone by staying away from the Community of believers even on mandated days. Faith is shared in the community and enriched in the community.  

Now two brothers and five sisters are coming into the faith community by baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. Will we help them experience the resurrection in their life?  We would be renewing our baptismal promises shortly. In baptism we die with Christ. Well, we are not going to kill them, but they willingly choose to die in Christ. The advantage of dying in Christ is that they will never die.  Corrie Ten Boom put it like this: "In the forest fire, there is always one place where the fire cannot reach. It is the place where the fire has already burned itself out. Calvary is the place where the fire of God's judgment against sin burned itself out completely. It is there that we are safe." So,when a Christian dies with Christ at baptism and he can die no more. And since Christ rose from the dead a Christian rises with him. In this dying their sins are forgiven. Imagine you owed a huge debt to somebody. He cannot charge you once you are dead. With your death all your debts are gone with you. In the same way all your sins will be gone now. But then you rise with Christ. And so, it is not the old self that you are going to get. It is a new life. So your old debtor cannot say you are the same so give me what you owe me. It is like grafting yourself into the stock of Christ. You are there, but you live on the stock of Christ and you get the nutrition and sap from the stock that is Christ.
Those of us now going to die in Christ and those already dead in Christ, remember that we have now only one life, ie is in Christ; as Paul said whether I live or die, I do that in Christ. In our creed we profess Jesus as the Light from Light. When we celebrate this Easter, let’s live in the light of Christ, who rose from the dead. Alleluiah.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Near Mobile, Alabama, there was a railroad bridge that spanned a big bayou. The date was September 22, 1993.  It was a foggy morning, just before daybreak, when a tugboat accidentally pushed a barge into the bayou.  The drifting barge slammed into the river bridge.  In the darkness no one could see the extent of the damage, but someone on the tugboat radioed the Coast Guard. Minutes later, an Amtrak train, the Sunset Limited, reached the bridge as it traveled from Los Angeles to Miami.  Unaware of the damage, the train crossed the bridge at 70 mph. There were 220 passengers on board.  As the weight of the train broke the support, the bridge gave away.  Three locomotive units and the first four of the train’s eight passenger cars fell into the alligator infested bayou.  In the darkness, the fog was thickened by fire and smoke.  Six miles from land, the victims were potential food for the aroused alligators. Helicopters were called in to help rescue the victims. Rescuers were able to save 163 persons. But one rescue stands out. Gary and Mary Jane Chancey
were waiting in the railcar with their eleven-year-old daughter Andrea. When the car went into the bayou and began to fill rapidly with water, there was only one thing they could do. They pushed their young daughter through the window into the hands of a rescuer, and then succumbed to their watery death.  Their sacrificial love stands out especially because their daughter was imperfect by the world's standards. She was born with cerebral palsy and needed help with even the most routine things.  But she was precious to her parents.  
Many years ago the late Fr. Guido Arguelles S.J. wrote a reflection on the passion and death of the Lord, entitled “Scar or Star”:

           Jesus Christ indeed is a Superstar,
                  upon the cross he was super-scarred.
           The thief on the left saw the scar. 
                  The thief on the right saw the star. . . 
           The ugly child that to a stranger is a scar 
                   is to its mother – her star!
           Those who love see stars. 
                  Those who do not, see scars.

Our life too, like Andrea’s, are imperfect – our lives are filled with mistakes, sin and helplessness. But we are still precious to God – so precious that He sacrificed his Son Jesus to save us. He allowed him to die on the Cross, the most ignominious death. And he elevated the Cross, the sign of shame and helplessness into sign of victory and honor.

Christian faith is not the reverential relationship to a distant and even abstract God, we know nothing about, but the adhesion to a Person, true man like us and, at the same time, true God. The Invisible one became flesh of our flesh and assumed to be a man until death, a death on the Cross. But, it was a death accepted as a ransom for us all, redeeming death, death that brings us life. 

(Exodus. 12: 1-8, 11-14; I Corinthians 11: 23-26; John 13: 1-15)

On Holy Thursday we celebrate three anniversaries: 1) the anniversary of the first Holy Mass, 2) the anniversary of the institution of ministerial priesthood in order to perpetuate the Holy Mass, 3) the anniversary of Jesus’ promulgation of His new commandment of love: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Today we remember how Jesus transformed the Jewish Passover into the New Testament Passover.  When Jesus got up from the Passover, he was disrupting the sacred ritual of the most hallowed ceremony in Jewish tradition, the Passover Seder. God himself had established the rules of that ceremony, and when Jesus was deviating from them, adding to them, clearly, Jesus sees himself as more than just another teacher or prophet, on the level as Moses. Only God himself can alter God's commands. And so, when the foot-washing is over and Jesus says to his Apostles, " You call me Master and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.
Then, Jesus concluded the ceremony with a long speech, extending through four chapters, which is even longer than the Sermon on the Mount. It is about his command of love. The pattern of our love should be his love for us. His love is manifested primarily from Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday; through his sacrificing love for us on the Cross.
What he started on Holy Thursday in the upper room was completed on the cross on Calvary. Both incidents are not two separate events, but forms single one. The Holy Mass is the reenactment of the events started in the Upper room and ended on Calvary. That is why we don’t celebrate the Eucharist on Good Friday, the only day the Church does not celebrate the Mass. St.Thomas Aquinas tells us that “the figure ceases on the advent of the reality. But this Eucharist is a figure and a representation of our Lord’s Passion. And therefore on the day on which our Lord’s passion is recalled as it was really accomplished, this sacrament is not consecrated. In this time in which we mystically enter into the historical realities of Jesus’ final days, it is not fitting to have the image, sign or sacrament of the Cross presented to the faithful. 
In the Gospel of John Chapter 6 Jesus identifies himself as the “living bread that came down from heaven”, and then he specifies that, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." Now this was extremely objectionable language for a Jew of Jesus' time. To eat someone's flesh was a term of contempt. More to it, the drinking of an animal's blood was expressly forbidden throughout the Old Testament - much less the drinking of a man's blood. But when Jesus' listeners object, Jesus does not soften his language - he intensifies it: "My flesh is real food and my blood real drink."
How can we make sense of this claim? It has everything to do with who Jesus is. If he were simply an ordinary human being, his words would have, at best, a symbolic resonance. But Jesus is God, and what God says, is. God's word affects reality at the most fundamental level. Thus, when Jesus' words over the bread and wine are spoken, they change into what the words signify. They become really, truly, and substantially the body and blood of the Lord.  The Eucharist, as the eternal presence of God, eternalizes those who consume it, making us ready for eternity. We participate in Jesus Christ through this sacrament.
The best way to keep Christ at the center of our lives is to keep the Eucharist at the center of our lives. It doesn't mean spending all of our time here in Church, though God does call some people to dedicate their lives in such a way.  But for most of us, it means simple things, like receiving Communion regularly and worthily, going to confession beforehand if necessary. It means trying to get to Mass more than just on Sundays. It means including Mass and Holy Communion in birthday and anniversary celebrations and other special occasions. It means carving a few minutes out of our busy schedules to come and sit with the Lord, to drop by the Tabernacle, where Jesus is always waiting for us. Let’s start that tonight after the Mass. Till midnight we shall keep vigil with the Lord. Jesus asked his disciples: Can’t you watch and pray for one hour with me?
Our celebration of the Eucharist requires that we wash one another’s feet, i.e., serve one another, and revere Christ's presence in other persons. To wash the feet of others is to love them, even when they don't deserve our love. Judas did not deserve Jesus’ love. Jesus knew he was going to betray him. Still he dealt compassionately with him, and washed his feet.
 The Mass is about lovingly serving others. That is why the final message is, “Go in peace to love and serve one another.”

Today Jesus challenges us to leave our places of comfort, to be ready to humbly and lovingly serve others. Who in our lives need to have their feet washed? May be all those around us and living with us.  Through the washing of the foot ceremony, Jesus reminds us that He washes the feet of everyone here, yours and mine. He did wash every stain from our lives by his sacrifice on the cross.  If we refuse him to do it like Peter, then as he said we would have no part with him. He wants to wash us from the ground up, with all the affection and hope he has been carrying for us.  We are the beloved community, feeling his hands drying our feet now. Let’s pray, Lord, help us to follow you and wash one another’s feet b serving them.